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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  July 4, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight, oil in the water, and now the cleanup after tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil is spilled in one of america's wild and scenic rivers. what caused this accident and how bad is it? desperate hours. the search for survivors after a fishing boat with americans on board capsizes in stormy waters. deliberation day. no holiday for the jury after emotional closing arguments, casey anthony's fate is now in their hands. did she murder her daughter? and a new start this fourth of july holiday after the worst kind of loss for two families who might never have met. kind of loss for two families who might never have met. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. i'm kate snow in for brian williams tonight. on this independence day, there's a huge cleanup under way not far from yellowstone national park. landowners along the yellowstone river in montana about 140 miles downstream from the park are furious after a pipeline that runs under the river burst on friday. oil coats the riverbanks around the city of billings and the town of laurel, and that's where we find george lewis tonight. good evening, george. >> reporter: good evening, kate. behind me you see some of the workers involved in the cleanup. montanans love their great outdoors and they're not too happy tonight that part of it is fouled with oil. exxon says it has more than 200 people working on cleaning up the oil spill, but about 1,000 barrels of crude, 42,000 gallons worth, were released into the
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yellowstone river. enough oil to fill five tanker trucks. >> i want to personally apologize to all the people affected by this. >> reporter: workers are putting up 40,000 feet of protective boom to try to keep the oil from fouling more of the riverbank. >> right now we're not worried about how many dollars we're spending. right now we're worried about getting in and responding to the damage and making sure that we can clean up. >> reporter: officials speculate that strong floodwaters on the yellowstone river may have slammed debris into the pipeline rupturing it and causing the spill. >> i didn't find out about the spill until i walked down here and smelled it. >> reporter: as we talked to this landowner, a helicopter flew overhead to survey the damage. >> they think this is how they're going to find the oil, when in reality the only way they'll find it is by sending people on foot down the river. >> reporter: many people who live and farm along the riverbank worry about the long-term effects. >> we don't know what will happen in the future five years from today.
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what kind of effect does this have on this land? >> reporter: her brother, george, agrees. >> how do you recover from oil when you spill? >> reporter: people here say exxon has been a good neighbor providing jobs for the community. still, they're upset. >> it does make you mad, because you cannot replace this land. >> reporter: while exxon said harm to animals was negligible, the local newspaper ran pictures of a turtle covered with oil and a flock of pelicans trying to avoid it. tonight the people here are wondering what else will be found in the days to come. this pipeline has had a troubled history, several safety violations, and it had to be shut down in may when the waters rose. exxon re-opened it thinking it was safe. kate. >> george lewis tonight in montana. thank you. there is a desperate search under way tonight to find at least eight people who are missing after a chartered fishing boat with 27 americans onboard capsized off the baja peninsula. it happened in a storm early sunday morning about 60 miles
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south of the port city of san felipe. nbc's lee cowan has more. >> reporter: the fishermen had been bobbing in the sea of cortez for hours before anybody knew the boat had capsized, clinging to life preservers and ice coolers hoping to be plucked from the water. the lucky ones were, one never made it and as many as eight are missing. >> it's very difficult to find people in the water. it's a very small object in a very large body of water. >> reporter: 27 american tourists along with 17 crew members set off on the erik, a 150-foot boat operated by baja sport fishing. it left the turquoise waters near san felipe on saturday bound for a fourth of july excursion. by saturday night about two miles off the mexican coast, those aboard say she was hit by two massive waves that centered to the bottom in a hurry. >> it's not out in the open in the pacific somewhere. i assumed they would be perfectly safe.
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>> reporter: murphy is the wife of lee, an experienced sports fisherman who paid hundreds hoping to catch a few yellowtail. >> he said he was fortunate enough that when he was thrown in, he came up right by a raft, so he was very fortunate. >> reporter: the mexican navy aided by the u.s. coast guard says 35 of the 44 onboard have been accounted for so far. as for the charter company, the website says all further trips are canceled. lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles. to politics now. this was a working holiday weekend for the republican candidates for president. many of them spent this july 4th trying to solidify support in early primary and caucus states, while the man they want to beat, president obama, celebrated the holiday close to home. nbc's kristen welker is live at the white house with the latest. good evening, kristen. >> reporter: good evening, kate. the race for the white house is heating up on this fourth of july with gop candidates making their case from iowa to new hampshire.
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former massachusetts governor mitt romney marking independence day in new hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary. he's the current gop front-runner, according to some polls, never hesitating to take shots at the current commander in chief. >> our president has failed us. the recession is deeper because of our president. >> reporter: stumping in the same parade but just a few minutes behind, another former mormon governor, jon huntsman of utah. he's been met with skepticism by some voters for what they see as socially moderate views and for having served as president obama's ambassador to china. today, determination. >> we can win new hampshire. i'm feeling good about this. >> reporter: other gop candidates flocked to iowa, where minnesota representative michele bachmann reached out in clear lake ahead of this state's straw poll. she's been making steady gains with voters. >> i'm so happy we were here and really focused. what we saw is incredible, concentrated support.
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>> reporter: it was another parade two-for with newt gingrich also in clear lake. the former house speaker is trying to rebuild his candidacy after much of his staff quit last month amidst reported strategic differences. the gop's sole african-american candidate, herman cain, is picking up speed. the former businessman shored up support in the battleground state of pennsylvania today. >> to paraphrase abraham lincoln, i will be a president of the people, by the people, and for the people. >> reporter: a very busy holiday, especially for those vying for the white house. and the person who currently occupies the white house has kicked off fourth of july celebrations here with military members and their families, and one more reason to celebrate tonight. it is his eldest daughter malia's birthday. she's turning 13. kate. >> happy birthday to her. kristen welker, thanks so much. this is no holiday for the jury in the closely watched
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casey anthony murder trial. after 35 days, dozens of witnesses and what some have described as devastating closing arguments by the prosecution, jury deliberations started around noon and hanging in the balance is the fate of a young mother accused of killing her daughter. kerry sanders has been covering the trial from the start. he joins us from orlando tonight. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, kate. on a very rainy and windy evening here, the jury has been taken to their hotel. they've been sequestered since the beginning of this trial working saturdays and most recently on sunday and again today, a holiday, july 4th. it's up to the jury to decide if they believe casey anthony murdered her daughter as the prosecution said, or did her daughter caylee accidentally drown in the backyard swimming pool as the defense claims? the lead prosecutor told the jury there's no other logical explanation other than to conclude casey anthony killed her daughter because she wanted
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a life without responsibilities, the life of a party girl. the defense argued the evidence in this case is nothing shy of fantasy forensics, and when every piece of evidence is put together and in the balance, the jury will be left with reasonable doubt. if casey is convicted of first-degree murder, she could face the death penalty. there are lesser charges she could be convicted of, including aggravated child abuse and a second degree manslaughter charge. there's no timetable for the jury to come back. the judge has told the jury to take as much time as they like. he says he'll give everybody a 30-minute warning when the jury has a verdict. kate. >> kerry sanders in a rainy orlando tonight. thank you. the former head of the international monetary fund could move freely around new york this weekend after being released from house arrest on friday, but tonight there's news that dominique strauss-kahn may face a new investigation in his own home country. a young french woman, a writer,
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who has publicly said that strauss-kahn tried to assault her during an interview now says she will bring a formal attempted rape charge against him. strauss-kahn's attorneys say if she does that, he will sue her for slander. overseas today general david petraeus spent his last fourth of july as commander of the u.s. forces in afghanistan. he met with american troops in the war zone, and just two weeks before heading home to take on his new job as cia director, he spoke one on one with nbc about america's mission. >> happy fourth of july to all of you. >> reporter: it's his eighth fourth of july in a combat zone, but the last in uniform for general david petraeus. he spent the day visiting some of the thousands of u.s. troops stationed in afghanistan. a farewell tour for a general many consider a rock star who found himself asking these tough as nails troops to just relax. >> the best way to relax is to put your hands in your pockets.
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that means you right there. go ahead. in fact, i'll put them in my pockets, too, here. >> reporter: credited with helping turn the iraq war around, petraeus was tapped by president obama a year ago to do the same in afghanistan. he admits it hasn't been easy. >> i never felt we could flip afghanistan the way we were able to flip iraq. >> reporter: a tough situation, but he insists not hopeless. >> the situation here is very hard without question. it has gotten progressively more difficult up until somewhere around last year, last fall when we started taking back areas from the taliban that mattered enormously to them. >> reporter: he warns that gains here are fragile, but ever the good soldier he says he supports president obama's plan to withdraw thousands of americans in the coming months. >> the commander in chief has made a decision, and we fully support that decision. we'll do everything we possibly can to implement it successfully.
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that's our job, and that's indeed what we will do. >> it was great just to have him show that, you know, he's still committed to what we're doing here even though we all know he's fixing to leave us. >> reporter: a popular, politically savvy, four-star general leaving afghanistan for washington, trading one tough job for another. nbc news, kabul. the royal newlyweds william and kate head for california later this week. but first, they have a few more stops in canada. today it was prince edward island where the crowds went wild for the royal couple as they rode down historic great george street escorted by the royal canadian mounted police. the prince got behind the controls of a canadian forces sea king helicopter and they competed against one another in a boat race. in the end we're told william beat his bride by half a length. as "nightly news" continues for this holiday, a big week ahead for america's space program. the final shuttle launch
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scheduled for friday, and now nasa scientists are taking a new look back in time. later, from great loss, great love. a family with many reasons to celebrate this fourth of july.
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♪ the scene in phoenix, arizona on this july 4th holiday as nasa prepares for the final shuttle launch on friday, it's taking its scientific pursuits to new heights. scientists can peer back in time to the creation of the universe. here with an exclusive sneak peek is nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: just after dusk in palmdale, california, onboard a modified 747, nasa's newest, most advanced infrared telescope is taking to the skies for an all-night mission of discovery. >> nasa 747. >> reporter: it's called s.o.f.i.a. flying near the stratosphere two massive doors open up.
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they're over 99% of the earth case dust and water vapors. it should provide crystal clear infrared views like scientists have never had before of nebulas, planets, stars and comets formed billions of light years ago but only visible to the telescope now. it is say researchers a glimpse at creation. >> we're seeing where stars are forming, and we're seeing it for the first time, details of how it's all happening, how it's all coming together. >> reporter: s.o.f.i.a. is a joint project between nasa and the german space agency. the germans built the $120 million telescope and nasa provided the plane. it's riding on a cushion of air with 24 of these black air bladders literally absorbing all the vibration from the plane. that allows the telescope to lock on a distant star as if it were locking on a quarter with pinpoint accuracy. while the orbiting hubble telescope has beamed back photos
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of universe, s.o.f.i.a. is different. they're looking at the building blocks of our solar system and beyond. >> hydrogen and helium. the very chemistry of the galaxy. >> reporter: that's exciting? >> it is. >> reporter: and possibly provide answers about life on earth. >> we don't know whether the earth's organics were homegrown or came from space. >> reporter: tom costello, nbc news, palmdale california. there's news tonight about chantix. new research published today says patients who take it are increasing their risk of heart problems including heart attacks and strokes. even if they have no prior history of heart disease. pfizer, the company that makes chantix, says the research is based on insubstantial evidence and the drug brings immediate help.
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up next, a group of americans bringing help and comfort and making a difference this july 4th holiday for people who really need it.
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happy fourth of july! >> those are skiers on july 4th, and while a lot of americans were enjoying the more typical
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fare, parades, barbecues and fireworks on this holiday monday, the people you're about to see spend it in quite a different way. it's been four months now since a devastating 9.0 quake and tsunami hit the coast of northeast japan leaving 23,000 people dead or missing. as nbc's ian williams reports from the disaster zone, young american volunteers are making a difference in the cleanup and bringing some measure of relief to traumatized survivors. >> let me see that. >> reporter: it was an unexpected place to find a fourth of july party, but this celebration was also designed to lift the spirits of survivors in japan's tsunami disaster zone. it's been four months since the torrent of water battered this coast, and young americans are at the heart of a remarkable volunteer effort bringing aid and comfort to devastated communities. >> i just feel like i have to do this. not just because it's japan, either.
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i think it's just what any human being should do. >> reporter: it's a long way from the classroom for paul who organized a group of americans teaching english in northern japan for whom a weekend's volunteer work takes them from cleaning drains to handing out fresh fruit to mostly elderly survivors. many still have only limited access to basic supplies. >> translator: everybody is really happy. we haven't had fruit and vegetables in a long while. >> reporter: the idea here isn't just to provide aid but to enable people to come together to meet, to talk, to re-create a sense of community stolen from them by the tsunami. >> where are you right now? >> reporter: for katherine chu, another teacher, the next stop is a damaged children's home. she's inspired by the memory of her close friend, taylor anderson, one of two americans, both teachers, who died in the tsunami. >> taylor loved kids, and part of this -- us being here is for her. the smiles, the thank yous, the
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little things that make you feel so good. >> reporter: she delivered gifts on behalf of anderson's father who has been a generous supporter of the volunteers. even the u.s. ambassador has gotten involved joining a group who have traveled to japan with a charity all hands. >> i'm proud. i'm really proud of what the volunteers are doing here. it's pretty amazing. >> reporter: it's also creating strong bonds, a warmth and enthusiasm only tempered by the knowledge this fourth of july that there's still so much more to be done. ian williams, nbc news in northeast japan. when we come back, love conquers all. two military families finding a new start on this fourth of july together.
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♪ honoring our military in st. louis this weekend. finally tonight, we have a story of finding love after the deepest kind of loss. chris sweet and danielle balmer have one big blended family on this independence day. a holiday that always carries special meaning for all of them. to see their smiles now, danielle and her two little ones, chris and his three, you'd never suspect how they got here. about four years ago danielle's husband was on patrol in iraq when he was killed by an ied. they were just about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. >> i was scared and didn't know what to do, but i wasn't thinking much past that day. >> reporter: about a year later, chris' wife jessica sweet was diagnosed with leukemia.
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>> i brought all the kids into jessica and i's bedroom and i told them. i told them that mommy had died, and she wasn't coming home. >> reporter: looking for support both widower and widow found themselves at an event for military families. >> it initially started out with us primarily talking about our loss and how it's affected us and our children. from that our relationship started. >> reporter: at the home they now share, there are constant reminders of their past, photos of the original two couples mixed in with the new. 11-year-old anthony proudly shows off his dad's two purple hearts. >> if i'm feeling sad, i look at all his stuff. >> reporter: caitlin and ashlin like to look at photos of their mom. >> she was really strong. >> we talk about her all the time. we never shy away from that. neither one of us.
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>> all five kids have mommy and daddy dolls to represent the parents they lost. >> it says jessica. >> but now it's danielle who reads the bedtime stories. >> good night, sleep tight my dear little teddy. a lot of other widows that i know say i love seeing that you're living again, and that you're brave enough to try this again. >> reporter: a few days ago the girls hit the nail salon. >> they love that that there's a girl now in the house. >> reporter: getting ready for july 4th when their parents would finally make it official. >> i told her that she's my fourth of july. i feel like i'm living again. >> reporter: a small ceremony in arlington, virginia this morning at the air force memorial, just the seven of them here, but nine in spirit. >> we believe that although she was meant to be with ryan and i was meant to be with jessica, danielle and i were meant to eventually be together. >> and the inscription inside
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their wedding bands, they lived happily ever after. that is our broadcast for this monday night. thank you for being with us. i'm kate snow. brian williams will be back here tomorrow evening. we hope you had a great fourth of july. we hope you had a great fourth of july. good night. -- captions by vitac -- good evening. happy fourth of july. i'm vicky nguyen. >> i'm brent cannon. we begin with disaster for dozens of bay area fishermen thrown into the waters off baja, california, when their sport fishing boat capsized. about 2:30 sunday morning. right now families all across the bay area are anxiously awaiting to hear
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